At the turn of the century, Indian cricket was in shambles. The match-fixing saga had just rocked the cricketing world, and closer home there were significant ramifications. Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja were ousted from the team, and a certain Sourav Ganguly was made the captain.
Ganguly was left with a humongous task of restoring the pride of Indian cricket and at the same time build a core that would drive Indian cricket forward in the coming decade. Ganguly was a natural leader. He had an astute eye of spotting talent and grooming them into match winners. The likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Gautam Gambhir, and MS Dhoni were introduced into the national team at his behest and the future looked bright.
Under Ganguly, India became a side that could complete overseas. From the period of 2000 to 2005, India won a Test in the West Indies (Port of Spain, 2002), drew with England in 2002 (1-1), retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under in 2003-04 (1-1) and won both ODI and Test series in Pakistan after a period of 50 years.
But, things weren't as hunky-dory for Ganguly- the captain, all the time. He had his share of disappointments when the team couldn't perform as per expectations like the drubbing in New Zealand, the group-stage Champions Trophy exit in 2004 among others.
Let's have a look at the top four heartbreaking moments for India under Sourav Ganguly.
#4 ICC Cricket World Cup, Final, 2003
India started the 2003 World Cup campaign with a stutter after working hard for victory against the Dutch. The win against the Netherlands was followed with an absolute humbling at the hands of Australia - by 125 runs.
The loss against the World Champions gave a much-needed fillip to Ganguly's side as India proceeded to win nine games on the bounce to set-up the summit clash with the Aussies.
Ganguly won the toss on Finals day, and it turned out to be the only thing that the Indians won that day. Having been put into bat by Ganguly, Australia made their intentions pretty clear with Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist going hammer and tongs in the first 15 overs.
But it was Ricky Ponting who ultimately played an innings that took the game out of the realms of Team India. In a scintillating assault worth 140 runs, Ponting along with Martyn (88) plummeted the bowlers into submission to rack up 359 in 50 overs.
Any hopes of India chasing down the target were squashed in the very first over when Sachin Tendulkar top-edged the ball to Glenn McGrath. Sehwag flattered to deceive with his 81, but it was always going to be a Brobdingnagian ask against the likes of McGrath, Brett Lee, and Bichel as India was eventually bowled out for 234; 125 runs adrift of the target.
The dream of becoming 'World Champions', 20 years after Kapil Dev team's memorable heist was broken, again.